I often think of the crazy holiday season countdown as a great big package we tear into (earlier and earlier!) every year. It’s bright and flashy, but we don’t find a whole lot at the heart of it.
And then there’s Advent.
Advent is like a small and carefully-wrapped gift that invites us to open it slowly, day-by-day, to discover new treasures inside each year. It’s the quiet, magnificent story unfolding beneath all the shopping and celebrating. It’s the real journey that will still be beautiful and true when everything else passes away.
This is the story I want my children to be swept up in.
They love anticipation and discovery; They love creating and celebrating.
I want to help them pour that God-given energy and excitement into the stuff that truly matters.
If you’re looking for some simple, meaningful ways to celebrate a special Advent season this year, read on. Find a few easy Advent activities that feel right for your family, and give them your personal touch! Starting your own Advent traditions is a wonderful way to celebrate the marvel of the season.
Hang a traditional Advent calendar that includes Scripture near a busy place in your home. Let children take turns opening each day, and spend a few moments talking about the message that’s revealed. Or place a small dry erase board orchalkboard in the kitchen to keep track of how many days until Jesus’ birthday. As simple as it seems, even taking a few moments each day to shift our focus toward the One we’re truly celebrating can make a big difference.
Pray each day.
Have the kids decorate a prayer jar, box or basket. (Check out our Bible journaling craft supplies for some great inspiration!) Cut 24 small slips of paper and sit down together to fill them out with names, situations and even parts of the world you want to pray for. Set it in the middle of the dinner table or living room, and have a child draw one out each day of Advent as your family gathers to pray.
Shine your light.
Set out an Advent Wreath, and take a moment to light one of the candles each Sunday during Advent. Talk about what it might look like to shine God’s light in the coming week.
Then consider putting His love into action with a weekly family outing to bless someone in need. It could be a nursing home visit, flower delivery, or a grocery store run for a homebound neighbor. Make a reverse advent calendar collection box and add one new item each day or week to donate to a food pantry or other organization. Get the kids involved and see what creative ideas they come up with!
Have some fun.
Our family doesn’t have the magical plush toy that shows up in some houses at the holidays, but we do love to have fun with our Shepherd on the Search. We hide him around the house each day of Advent, and he makes his way to the manger on Christmas Eve.
Create your own advent calendar countdown.
Make an advent calendar together for a personalized way to count down. Gather some supplies and give the kids a few hours one afternoon to create their version of a Christ-centered Christmas countdown. There are no rules; it can be as simple as stickers on paper, or elaborate as a colorful clay sculpture. Talk with them about how we each have a special journey to take, and theirs is unlike anyone else’s. Remind them how much God delights in walking with us every step of the way. Allow their creativity to guide you through the Advent season as you draw inspiration from their homemade advent countdown.
If you’re looking for a more comprehensive guide for the season, there are some wonderful advent devotionals that include Scripture, devotions and activities for your family to share. One of my favorite Advent books is Ann Voskamp’s “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.”
No matter what, remember that every little step we take toward the heart of this beautiful season matters: every meaningful conversation we share, every prayer prayed together, every act of kindness that shines His light. Don’t let the celebration of Advent become another burdensome thing to check off a holiday to-do list. Pray about your plans; do what’s right for your family in this season of life, and enjoy the journey of a Christ-centered Advent celebration together!
Devotional credit: Dayspring.com